There are many kitchen countertop ideas to consider and options available to the homeowner. From laminates to natural stone and all those in between, it may get a bit confusing trying to determine which direction to go. Budget always plays an important role in your decision and luckily there are numerous price-points depending on the surface you choose. So read about some of the options below to determine which works best for you.
The following kitchen countertop ideas will demonstrate the pros and cons of each and provide some cost medians to help you with your decision. Since natural stone and solid surface options still reign high on consumer wish-lists, we'll start with those.
Please note that costs vary depending on region. The prices shown are typical of the Mid-Eastern U.S.
Natural Stone, man-made composite stone and solid surface countertops are the most costly of all the options and are typically pre-cut in a remote location to specifications based on a template of your kitchen's layout and measurements.
The entire process typically entails choosing a material (granite, quartz, solid-surface, etc), browsing color options and making a choice based on cost estimates, setting up an appointment to have a professional take measurements and/or create a template (a down payment may be required) and finally, waiting for your custom-cut counters to arrive and be professionally installed.
Note: Determine what is and is not included in your total installation cost. You may be responsible for plumbing connections and/or modifications to cabinet bases.
Granite countertops are cut from slabs of naturally occurring stone. Typically, slabs are priced via a grading system based on the overall uniqueness and rareness of the stone in color and pattern variance as well as surface finish. Each piece, regardless of grade still has the same overall durability and quality attributes however lower grades may be a bit more porous.
A lower grade granite is still visually stunning once installed so remember to consider some of the more budget-friendly options. A $5.00 less per square foot option could save you hundreds in the end.
Popular granite suppliers include:
Note: Granite prices have dropped significantly in the past few years to become more competitive with man-made, solid surface countertop options. Due to its finish, quality, durability and sheer, natural lustre, it is still worth the money and highly recommended.
Thrifty Granite Options
Quartz countertops, which some classify as natural stone countertops, are actually a composite material made from both quartz and resin. Despite this fact, quartz makes up at least 90% of the finished solid surface giving it extreme durability and glimmering beauty.
Quartz is priced in the same bracket as granite so it's really a matter of preference. Quartz comes in an amazing array of colors which makes it a bit more appealing for those seeking a customized look.
Popular quartz suppliers include:
Marble countertops boast classic beauty and elegance and bring a certain degree of sophistication to a space more so than either granite or quartz. Despite its luxurious appearance, there are some downfalls when it comes to durability.
Marble, although a natural stone, is softer than both granite and quartz. Knife cutting should be done on cutting boards to protect the surface. Acidic substances such as lemon juice and certain cleaners may dull the finish, so marble counters should be sealed and polished to keep them looking their best.
For marble price quotes in your area visit Marble.com.
*Check local listings for marble countertop contractors and suppliers in your area.
Thrifty Marble Options
Soapstone countertops may be less known or trendy, but have been around for many years and are gaining popularity in residential homes. Soapstone is a natural stone which has some interesting attributes and characteristics.
It is softer than both granite and marble but scratches are easily sanded and a quick recoating of mineral oil will blend everything together once again. In fact, unlike both granite and marble, soapstone does not need to be sealed. It is impervious to staining. The recommended mineral oil treatment is essentially a top coat to keep the surface looking its best.
Soapstone does have short-comings in color options. It typically develops as a gray-scale stone. Oiling usually deepens this to charcoal or black, and natural darkening will occur even without oiling. Because of this, soapstone has some limitations in its flexibility for design styles. However, it may be the perfect choice for your rustic, contemporary and modern kitchen if you prefer a less commonly used material.
See more examples of soapstone countertops.
For soapstone vendors throughout the U.S. visit M. Teixeira Soapstone
Thrifty Soapstone Options
Solid surface countertops are man-made composites, typically acrylic, with the high-end appeal of natural stone but the added benefits of extreme durability. Since they are engineered, finishes have been developed that are impervious to staining thus requiring no sealers or maintenance. They are heat resistant and often scratch resistant. A popular and well-known solid surface example is Corian®.
Popular solid surface suppliers include:
Concrete countertops are the just plain cool looking and can be incorporated into many design styles. They are an excellent choice for a modern setting or can be color tinted to give them some Old World appeal for a more rustic approach.
Concrete, although visually stunning, does require continued maintenance above and beyond the other natural stone and solid surface options listed. Despite this, it can be easily personalized with subtle textures or inset adornments and is built on-site in custom shapes, sizes and thicknesses. You can use a concrete contractor to do the job or attempt many of the do-it-yourself concrete countertop tutorials online.
See more examples of concrete countertops.
Butcher block countertops are a great middle-ground, solid countertop option. They can be incorporated into many design styles and naturally offer a warmer look than the sometimes colder appearance of stone options.
Commonly made of maple, they can be reasonably purchased at set sizes. For instance, a 72"x36" at 1 1/2" thick can be purchased for around $200.00 while custom-cut sizes will be a bit more costly. They are a great Do-It-Yourself countertop option as well.
Butcher block does require a bit of maintenance but if care is taken, their natural appeal and beauty can be well retained. They should be regularly conditioned with a food-grade mineral oil. This will help repel moisture absorption, possible odors, bacteria and will assure a deep, rich color and finish. Cutting should ideally be done on cutting boards but if knife marks do occur, they can be sanded out.
NOTE: Under-mount sinks (seen in all examples above) are
customarily used with solid countertop applications
and provide a more seamless appearance.
Non-solid surface countertops consists of layers of materials. A popular non-solid surface counter would be laminate countertops which consist of a thin sheet of decorative laminate adhered to a plywood-type base or underlayment.
Laminate countertops are a great, economical and durable solution. They can provide a quick makeover for your kitchen and come in an endless array of colors, finishes and textures to meet most any design need you require. They are also a great DIY product to help keep costs down.
Laminate countertops have come a long way with decorative finishes emulating the look of high-end granite and other costly, natural stone options. This budget-friendly solution incorporates man-made materials designed to resist some of the flaws that plague natural stone options. Newer finishes have been engineered to be more durable, withstand scratching, resist heat and remain impervious to staining, bacteria and odors. When on a budget, this is one of the best options.
Laminate Countertop Cost Options
Replace laminate sheeting on outdated or damaged laminate countertops as the cheapest solution. Build your own countertops from particle board and adhere a laminate of your choice. If purchasing new countertops, consider those which are pre-cut, sized, and pre-bonded with manufacturer-select laminate. Your color options will be very limited in this instance however. Finally, consider unfinished, pre-cut and sized countertops and have them covered in the laminate of your choice.
Popular laminate suppliers include:
Tile countertops are another economical option that may provide you a more substantial feel than laminate with the flexibility to customize. Choosing this option also allows for a unified transition between counter and backsplash.
Tiles can be made from ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble, granite, and tumbled stone to name a few. Prices vary greatly. Discontinued tile can cost less than $1.00 per 12"x12" square allowing for a thrifty project. Decorative tile accents can be added to create a one-of-a-kind countertop. Tile departments at home improvement centers offer coordinating edge trims for various in-stock tile to enable a finished look.
Save labor costs by tiling your own countertop. Many online tiling tutorials can offer you guidance.
For a high-end look consider recycled glass tile. This eco-friendly product, although a bit pricey, will impressive your guests and still costs less than most solid surface installations.
Visit home improvement centers in your area for pricing and special offers.
*Check local listings for tile countertop contractors and suppliers for price quotes.
If having your tiles installed by a contractor, save money by pre-purchasing both the tile and tiling supplies.
For more, unique, kitchen countertop ideas and
green-living options visit green interior design.